So... marathon weekend in Austin. The excitement, the visitors, the "Expect Delays" and "Road Closed" PSAs all over town, the traffic... I admit, even though I was all kinds of annoyed at the public transport being rerouted all day long, it was fun to see all this as a resident instead of an out-of-towner. (Although perhaps we should consider moving the Austin Marathon to Round Rock... they don't have any public transport to disrupt!)
Friday morning I turned up bright & early to help stuff packets. Saturday morning we turned up bright & early to be information people, which was way more fun than I anticipated. I got to answer a few questions in Spanish (very cool, and it got better as I went along), but we more or less answered the same three questions for three hours: 1) How do I find my bib number (required for packet pickup)? 2) Where can I park tomorrow? and 3) Where do I get my t-shirt? The marathon switched to messenger bags as an entry premium and t-shirts for finishers, which threw off the people who were used to getting two t-shirts.
Someone also asked me where Lance Armstrong was. Everybody's a comedian.
So Sunday morning, we reported to our information spots at 5 AM (and I was right next to a loudspeaker! Geez!) so that we could direct thousands of runners to a non-existent medical tent (oops), point to the port-a-loos, explain the start corral, and look sympathetic for the runners who forgot their bibs/chips/etc. (Okay, I'm a runner, I understand race day nerves, but... how do you forget vital equipment like your chip timer?) Plus, gear check was a mile from the start line, so I ended up with a bunch of bags dumped off by people who didn't plan ahead and were still holding their extra t-shirt at 6:55.
Anyway! That finished, Chad & I walked about a mile to the course route to watch for our runners, and once all five of them had gone by, we walked another mile to see them again. (One of my classmates yesterday said he took a lawn chair for spectating purposes. I so should have done that.) Being a spectator is amusing on all sorts of levels; first of all, there's a limit to the number of things that can be shouted at runners who are 12 miles into a 13.1-mile race. (Note to non-running spectators: "Almost there!" is NOT one of them. Some runners are really touchy about this. Don't be surprised if they yell nasty things back at you or get violent when you tell them they are nearly done, no matter how correct you are.) Second, in both places that we stood, the people around us left after their runners went by, which meant by the end Chad and I were doing the shouting all by ourselves. Third, and perhaps most important, sidewalks were not designed for people to stand on them for two hours. Ay yi yi, my poor legs and feet. I could have run the 5K and been less tired & sore afterwards.
Spectating done, we walked to the finish line, met up with our sweaty friends, and had time for more chitchat and lunch before seeing off the rest of the gang on their respective trips home (San Antonio, Dallas, and two cars to Lubbock).
I do have more photos, but they are still on the camera, so they'll have to wait for another post. Moral of the story: Volunteering and spectating are both very fun, but bring provisions.